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Non-Tools You Need for Home Repairs

Part of the How To Fix Everything For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Sometimes, home repair jobs call for everyday items and not just tools. This shopping list has non-tool items you should have around for home repairs:

  • All-purpose utility knife: A myriad of uses and handy when you’re doing a fix-it project.

  • Bin or Klitz sealer: The only two primer/sealers that seal water-stained drywall or cover crayon, ink, and felt-pen marks on walls. Nothing else can match them.

  • Bleach: Not just for laundry, it works great on grout, mildew, stains, and minor drain blockages. Never mix it with ammonia; the two make a toxic gas that’s dangerous to inhale.

  • Brushes: Get soft-bristle brushes to remove dust and small particles.

  • Clamps: Ratchet straps, a variety of plastic or metal clip-type clamps, and one or two C-clamps of different sizes come in handy for a variety of fix-it projects. Ratchet straps are also great for securing mattresses on the roof of a car and maneuvering large appliances.

  • Duct tape: Okay, you can laugh, but once you have it around you’ll find ingenious ways to use it — and probably never for wrapping air ducts!

  • Dum Dum toy putty: This putty never hardens and although developed for puttying windows, it’s great for keeping pictures and mirrors level and temporarily securing photos and posters. It doesn’t damage paint or paper.

  • Masking tape: Don’t settle for one width; you’ll inevitably wish you had the other as well.

  • Old toothbrushes: Use them to clean the gaskets sealing refrigerators, freezers, and ovens, scour around faucets, and get paint and dirt out of crevices.

  • Plunger: Use it to unblock drains and toilets.

  • Putty knife: Use this non-tool tool for fix-its, scraping wallpaper, stripping furniture, getting under surfaces. You’ll use it a lot.

  • Rulers and yardsticks: These are an absolute necessity if you want to cut wood, drywall, or anything else. If you splurge just a little, you can get metal rulers that won’t snap or break.

  • Sandpaper: Buy an assortment from very fine grit to coarse grit and you’ll have them available when you’re working on a project.

  • Single-edge razor blades: One small package will last a long time because they’re reusable, especially after scraping paint splatters off glass.

  • Steel wool: You don’t need a lot, just fine, medium, and coarse grades.

  • Stud finder: Stop guessing where to drive a nail into the wall. It locates nails in your drywall, and thus, the stud.

  • Two-way tape: Also called carpet tape, this holds down throw rugs and, temporarily, loose carpeting and vinyl. You’ll find other uses as well.

  • WD-40: Use one or two drops on hinges, locks, and anything else needing lubrication.

  • White vinegar: Use it on rugs and tablecloths when someone spills red wine.

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